'Micro-smart lockdowns' begin in Karachi
NCOC expresses concern rise in Covid-19 cases in the port city
After as many as 22 new cases were reported in a single union council - with a population of only 4,000 people - in West district on Wednesday, the Sindh government decided to imposed 'micro-smart lockdowns' in the city's virus hotspots.
The move came after the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) expressed concern over an increase in Covid-19 cases, particularly in Karachi, which accounted for nearly half of the new cases registered countrywide on Tuesday.
The NCOC said in its daily update that the country registered 747 new cases on Tuesday, out of which at least 365 cases were reported in Karachi. On Wednesday, meanwhile, Karachi reported 221 cases out of a total of 311 in Sindh, according to the Sindh chief minister, while the city has reported a majority of Pakistan's cases since the pandemic began.
During the NCOC meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan highlighted that the strategy of smart lockdowns, contact tracing and stressed that following the health protocols was essential to control the spread of the virus.
Sindh health secretary Zahid Abassi, meanwhile, informed the NCOC that the city's administration was monitoring the situation and appropriate administrative action would be taken in consultation with all stakeholders.
The new micro-smart lockdown was imposed in UC-8, Manghopir and Gadap Town late on Wednesday evening in line with the relevant district health officer's (DHO) directives, after fresh cases emerged there.
The West deputy commissioner (DC) issued a notification for the implementation of pandemic-related standard operating procedures in the affected areas.
According to the notification, the entrance of unnecessary persons was restricted, while residents are to wear face masks. Furthermore, public transport and pillion riding have been banned along with public gatherings, while trade and commercial activities have been suspended. Only shops selling essential items and pharmacies may remain open, while one person from a household may leave the house at a time for necessary activities.
Earlier in the day, the Sindh Health Department wrote to the Karachi police chief and DCs, asking them to ensure strict implementation of SOPs and impose 'micro-smart lockdowns' in affected areas to prevent the virus from spreading further.
The health department also suggested deploying additional police officials to enforce this lockdown, adding that DHOs should be consulted in this regard.
Meanwhile, Karachi Commissioner Sohail Rajput ordered officials to take action against restaurants and wedding halls violating SOPs.
Rajput chaired a meeting with DCs, DHOs and other relevant officials on Wednesday, where it was decided that eateries and wedding halls flouting the SOPs would be closed for at least three days.
The commissioner directed the DCs to inspect restaurants and wedding halls in their jurisdictions and initiate action against the offenders immediately. The meeting further decided to increase testing capacity for schools and to seal any educational institutions violating the SOPs as well.
Further, the commissioner asked the officials to ensure the implementation of SOPs in parks, restricting people from entering without wearing face masks. He also directed the DCs to take action against industrial units failing to adhere to the.
Separately, irked at the disregard for SOPs at educational institutes, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani ordered relevant authorities to seal a private school, World Grammar Learning School, in Kharadar.
The minister issued the directive during surprise visits to schools in the locality.
He expressed anger over SOP violations at various private schools and instructed the Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions Sindh director-general to ensure that pandemic guidelines were being observed at all institutions.